It’s a big day in our family.
Little Man starts school!
Although he’s spent half-days at preschool a few days each week, today begins “the real deal.” Today is the first day of the K-12 Experience—the one that brings a new lunch box, new clothes, new school supplies. New friends, new teachers, new influences. New subjects and new choices to discuss ’round the family dinner table. That multi-year experience that foresees smiles and laughter, disappointments and challenges, and character-building opportunities.
Plenty of character-building opportunities.
If you’re feeling a little teary-eyed about now, you probably know a little one heading off to school this year, too…
Wasn’t it “just yesterday” I watched as Little Man and his Mommy excitedly filled up a shopping cart with brand new school supplies for students who couldn’t afford their own? …Watched proudly as he marched up those big bus steps and delivered his bags of generous love to grateful new friends?
I’m reminded of something I received many years ago when my own firstborn took those excited steps out into the world with a new backpack of school supplies.
Today I pass it on to Daughter the Younger and My Favorite Fatigue Wearer—with love for a job well done in preparing Little Man for this milestone. His Nonna and Poppa are praying for all of you today. We can’t wait to hear all about his new adventure!
by Dan Valentine
(as published many years ago in Family Circle magazine)
My young son starts to school today. It’s all going to be strange and new to him for a while, and I wish you would sort of treat him gently.
You see, up to now, he’s been king of the roost. He’s been boss of the back yard. His mother has always been around to repair his wounds, and I’ve always been handy to sooth his feelings.
But now things are going to be different.
This morning he’s going to walk down the front steps, wave his hand, and start out on the great adventure. It’s an adventure that might take him across continents. It’s an adventure that will probably include wars and tragedy and sorrow.
To live his life in the world he has to live in will require faith and love and courage.
So, World, I wish you would sort of take him by his young hand and teach him the things he will have to know.
Teach him—but gently, if you can.
He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, that all men are not true.
But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero; that for every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader. Teach him to learn to lose and to enjoy winning.
Steer him away from envy, if you can, and teach him the secret of quiet laughter.
Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest people to lick. Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books. But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on a green hill.
In school, World, teach him it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong. Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough people.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is getting on the band wagon. Teach him to listen to all men—but teach him to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and take only the good that comes through.
Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him there can be glory in failure and despair in success.
Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness. Teach him to sell his brawn and brains to the highest bidders but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul.
Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he’s right.
Treat him gently, World, but don’t coddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel. Let him have the courage to be impatient. Let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself.
Because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind.
This is a big order, World, but see what you can do. He’s such a nice little fellow—my son!